Biden’s View of NATO Is as Outdated as Trump’s

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are old, and so are their ideas. Their approaches to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are wrongheaded and outdated. Mr. Trump is reaching back to the old-right view that it is unfairly burdensome, while Mr. Biden treats it as if it were the Cold War’s NATO.

There’s a better way to approach NATO. The alliance has changed a lot this century, and those changes provide an opportunity to strengthen it by elevating its new members from Eastern Europe over the Western European states.

Americans have long complained that Europeans don’t spend enough on defense. Mr. Trump is airing his predecessors’ grievances with less tact, harming the alliance in doing so. Anti-NATO sentiments have always been strongest in flyover states, where the interest in Asia is greater. In the postwar decades, Sen. Robert Taft (R., Ohio) and Mike Mansfield (D., Mont.) drove this tendency in their respective parties. As the GOP becomes increasingly a heartland party, its members become friendlier with this line of argument. Sens. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and J.D. Vance (R., Ohio) are both advocates of America pulling back from Europe.

As Democrats become a coastal party, they are becoming more Europhilic. American prosperity is tied with European security. But NATO’s center of gravity has shifted eastward, and Democrats haven’t kept up.

That is illustrated by the race for secretary general of NATO. It tightened when Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia withdrew. Challenging the Western European conventional wisdom worked against her, and she was dismissed as too hawkish on Russia. This leaves a two-man race between Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Mr. Rutte’s stock rose when Western European members convinced Mr. Biden to support him.

Mr. Biden’s endorsement contradicts his administration’s National Defense Strategy, which leaves no doubt that realizing the president’s vision relies on allies’ upgrading their capabilities—while he refuses to build up U.S. military strength. Poland, despite having a smaller economy, spends more on military equipment than either Germany or France. As a percentage of gross domestic product, most Eastern European states spend more than their Western counterparts.


Read the rest at WSJ.

Shay Khatiri is a Senior Fellow at Yorktown Institute.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top